Campaigns debate Big Bird, binders and Romnesia
October 21st, 2012
02:39 PM ET
2 years ago

Campaigns debate Big Bird, binders and Romnesia

(CNN) - The two presidential campaigns clashed Sunday over Big Bird, "binders full of women," and the latest phrase gone viral on the campaign trail - "Romnesia."

Romney senior adviser Kevin Madden said President Barack Obama's re-election campaign has "reduced themselves to very small attacks" that amounted to trivial attempts to distract from the president's failed record.

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"('Romnesia' is) quite frankly a silly word for the leader of the free world to begin uttering," Madden said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "The very fact that the president has to utter a term like that is a glaring example of how small his campaign has been."

Obama first used the term at a campaign event in Virginia on Friday to underline his opponent's changes in positions on issues like contraception, coal, equal pay, and taxes.

"He told folks he was the ideal candidate for the tea party," Obama said of Romney's stance during the primary season. "Now suddenly he is saying 'What, who me?' He is forgetting what his own positions are and he is betting that you are too. I mean he is changing up so much, backtracking and sidestepping."

Obama said he and his supporters needed to come up with a term for "this condition he is going through," settling on "Romnesia."

Also appearing on "Face the Nation," Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said the term is meant to be a "playful" way to compare Romney's moderate positions taken during the general election campaign with his more conservative stances taken during the fierce Republican primaries.

"All this talk about binders, all this talk about Big Bird, that's indicative of a president who doesn't have a plan for the future," said Madden, arguing the Obama campaign's use of these words to attack Romney proves it has run out of ideas.

Cutter defended the campaign's use of Big Bird, saying the reference to "Sesame Street" and PBS underscored Romney's inability to come up with a plan to reduce the deficit. She said Romney's "binders full of women" comment, made at last week's presidential debate, shows his resistance to policies benefiting women.

In response to a question at the town hall-style debate last week on gender pay inequality, Romney said that as he was assembling his Cabinet after being elected governor in Massachusetts, he questioned his staff for sending him only male applicants and was told those were the only candidates who were qualified.

"I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks?' and they brought us whole binders full of women," Romney said, sending social media, political analysts and critics abuzz about the awkwardly phrased comment.

The campaigns did agree, however, that Florida is a "very close" race in the CBS interview, broadcast from Boca Raton, Florida, ahead of Monday night's final presidential debate there.

Recent polls in Florida showed 48% of likely voters backing Romney and 45% supporting Obama, according to a Fox News survey released Saturday. Those results are in line with Friday's CNN/ORC International poll of likely Florida voters. The CNN poll found 49% of likely voters in the Sunshine State backed Romney and 48% backed Obama. The differences between the candidates in both polls are within the sampling errors.

Underscoring the significance of Florida's 29 electoral votes, Obama will campaign in the Sunshine State following the debate, then travel to Ohio to appear with Vice President Joe Biden. The Romney campaign has not announced where the former Massachusetts governor will campaign after the debate.

–CNN's Gregory Wallace and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (193 Responses)
  1. Dennis

    The stakes are enormous. The debate forums allow for two minute responses. Is this speed dating for a president?

    October 21, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  2. Widow

    Great to know these are the topics CNN focuses on during an election!!

    October 21, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  3. Sherri

    Romney actually said, in the debate, that he would cover pre-existing conditions, when he has, for several years now, said that he is against Obama's healthcare law, which would do that. He says one thing, then later says another. He keeps doing this, over and over. He is a huge hypocrite anyway. As a Mormom, he is against all forms of gambling, yet he is taking millions from Shel Adelstein, who owns the largest casinos in Vegas and China. Adelstein has vowed to give 10 mil to defeat Obama. Don't think for a minute that IF Romney would win, that he would not be beholden to Adelstein. Follow the money, they say.

    October 21, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  4. REDFIRESTORM

    a growing number of people like romney as simon and garfunkle sing "mrs. robinson" to michelle and "sound of silence" to the blinded obama believers

    October 21, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  5. Wanderer

    Q: Where do Big Bird, Binders, and Romnesia come from?
    A: From Romney’s lying, flip flopping, and changing position from moderate positions taken during the general election campaign with his more conservative stances taken during the fierce Republican primaries. Even the other GOP candidates were tricked or cheated by these Romney’s skills. People of America, you don’t have to be tricked or cheated by Romney’s skills: Lying, flip flopping, and changing position.

    October 21, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  6. Name

    Wow, with all of the important issues out there, like 4 dead Amicans in Libya, the economy, the deficit, etc, Big bird, binders and silly little made up words are all that the obama campaign talk about? This speaks volumes. If obama had a good record to run on he would be shouting about it. He doesn't, so he and his followers continue to act like a bunch of grade school children and call names...so sad.

    October 21, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  7. Phil

    Wow! The hypocrisy! Republicans leverage and even distort Democratic phrases more so than the opposite. Remember Biden's statement regarding a burdened middle class or the phrase regarding "act of terror"? Republicans are hypocrits and need to learn to fight fair.

    October 21, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  8. Arthur

    The problem is that there is an obvious choice. The fact is that Gov Romney stated twice on national TV that the Government does not create Jobs. And yet, his whole campaign is based off o the fact that the President has not created enough jobs to facilitate a fast enough recovery for the US. But if the government does not create jobs, how is that the presidents fault. I don't agree that it is ALL the presidents fault as there is plenty of blame to go around but it is another example as to how Romney puts his foot in mouth and contradicts what he says. Also, the fact that Romney s campaign says that he will create 12 million jobs, I would like to know if that would be in the US or elsewhere. I'm sure that he would outsource all the government jobs and that is how he will pay for his tax cuts

    October 21, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  9. teddy

    Why doesn't Romney send his sons to Afganistan like every body elses? a'm just c....

    October 21, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  10. TheVoiceOfReal

    It is very important that Obama run against SOMEONE from the Republican party. If Romney is the best that they were able to get to represent the party then it is important that he use all the tactics used, and condoned, by the Republican party to win the election. Having said that, i have to say at this point, his attacks haven't had a lot of substance behind them. They're simple, and lack the depth I would expect from a gentleman running for the most powerul seat on the planet. Romney can use all his time to run for President of the US, while Obama has to split his time between BEING president and running for a second term. Obama's most important priority should be (and I believe is) BEING President. Still, Romney should not hold back, and attack him with all he's got! It is the American way!!!

    October 21, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  11. Surthurfurd

    If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.
    [Matthew 19:21]

    October 21, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  12. Surthurfurd

    Until we seek to make the nation's goal to uplift those who are suffering we are a failed nation.

    October 21, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  13. smellarat

    Juvenile advertising tricks. Did they hire the Geico Gecko team? Typical distraction techniques from a sinking ship with a clueless captain.

    October 21, 2012 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  14. West Virginia- Buck

    Romney says what he thinks the audience of that day wants to hear. I dont trust the man.

    October 21, 2012 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  15. Thomas Paign

    Romnesia??? Please Mr. President, I can do better than that. To all you vegan liberals out there, sorry but the Republican candidate is, in fact, a romnivore. While his opinions may be romnifarious at time, he's humble enough to admit that he is neither romnipotent nor romnicient. There is a new fetal DNA test used to determine if your child is destined to be a hedge fund manager or venture capitalist. It's called the romniocentesis. While I doubt we'll ever see a Romnesty International due to his support of capital punishment, we may see an actual budget and a romnibus spending bill passed should Romney win the election!

    October 21, 2012 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  16. creek

    if i were president i probably wouldn't use petty tactics but then again he's probably wondering why he's even having to deal with that clown romney. i mean when you have one of the most progressive and accomplished first terms of any president since teddy roosevelt, you have to ask yourself, "seriously, this hack? i've got to take time out of my day to deal with this infant?"

    October 21, 2012 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  17. catsnake

    Romney is a loser and WILL LOSE!! sure I'm voting, not that it matters since my state (NY), is the most important and smart state in the country and is overwhelmingly Democrat. Democratic states are by far wealthier, are in better shape, and are smarter so why don't red states ever say to themselves, "hmmmm, maybe we should be more like those blue states and not eat fried chicken every night and have lowest incomes in the country", but no. They are stubborn and rather live with pride in there bad ideas because to give in is weak. So they listen to their rich republican leaders tricking them through religion and guns and such and they try to elect there republican "friends" when in reality they are being used and always worse off with who they chose. Evolution is a great thing and soon red states will no longer exist and we shall be prosperous again.

    October 21, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  18. Cindy

    BEWARE OF OBMANESIA which I read about on another blog.

    OBAMANESIA: I's lethal and happens when you can't remember important facts such as what precipitated an American Ambassador and others to be attacked and murdered in Libya. It causes you to repeatedly cover up the facts with an artificial bandage, but the wound can never heal.
    OBAMANESIA also results in delusions and hallucinations which causes you to think an obscure movie causes such deaths, and you repeatedly need to apologize over and over again to the perpetrators of the crime who are terrorists, even though you don't believe terrorists continue to exist.
    I hope you don't catch it

    October 21, 2012 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  19. inphinity9@yahoo.com

    Personally I think Romney was both petty and disrespectful is telling the Moderator, who works for PBS, that he is cutting funding for PBS (and Big Bird) during the debate. I don't mind playful jabs from either side, but I'm with Joe Biden on his speech in Florida last week that "you respect the other fella!" I wanted to like Romney, I really did. But, when he won't release tax returns from a time before he was campaigning and when you hear someone promising everyone everything but no details on how he's gonna pay for it, well, he's lying to some of them. Likely the 47%!

    October 21, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  20. Cindy

    Obama should have campaigned on a strategy to convince voters why and how he planned to make things better over the next 4 years, rather than smearing Romney, I would have voted him again. But not this time.

    October 21, 2012 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  21. guest what

    Lol politics. I wish the election was this week so we can be done with these articles.

    October 21, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  22. The Left Wing

    In a sound bite world, you often have to reduce substantive ideas to a few words. Sometimes this distorts the ideas. However, Romnesia fairly accurately conveys what has happen in the Romney campaign since the first debate. Romney has indeed changed his economic plan from tax cuts to revenue neutral, changed in stance on contraception from personhood to it's OK, and changed his tone on immigration. In doing this he acts like these have been his positions all along rather than substantial changes.

    October 21, 2012 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  23. Saint_John

    Romney is a pathological narcissist. Google up Narcissistic Personality Disorder for some enlightenment on this. He matches the profile perfectly. Has zero capacity for empathy and is completely self absorbed. Unfortunately for him, the disorder is considered largely untreatable and incurable. When one has any interaction with these types it often feels like evil. They are psychological vampires. Avoid them at all cost if you are able and please don't elect one of them to the presidency. Obama/Biden 2012. There can be no other way. Jesus !

    October 21, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  24. Phil

    According to Kevin Madden's quote Gov Romney has been running a small campaign since the inception of the affordable care act. Before he went on Sunday talk circuit he should have asked himself how many times Mitt Romney has called the Affordable Care Act "Obamacare". One more point on Republican hypocrisy and a case for Romnesia. Now it's spreading to the rest of the Romney camp. SMH

    "('Romnesia' is) quite frankly a silly word for the leader of the free world to begin uttering," Madden said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "The very fact that the president has to utter a term like that is a glaring example of how small his campaign has been."

    October 21, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  25. upwardquest

    President Obama has my vote. (I've already voted) He helped me and thousands of other grateful people keep our homes. Obama is far and away more qualified to be President. My feeling is that he will beat Romney by a much greater margin than might appear. He will win many more states including the so-called battleground states. Arizona, where I live, will go for Obama! Bank on it!

    October 21, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
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